Colin’s Favorite Albums of April 2022

Apologies for the fact that we’re already a few days removed from April and that most of these albums actually came out in March. But well, I’m just a little backlogged with albums to listen to. The Spring tends to be the most fruitful time for music releases (both in the pop sphere and for the critical darlings), and 2023 is shaping up to be a fairly normal year in that regard after a couple years of general album release unpredictability. I’ll admit that almost all of these artists are fairly established, but maybe that’s what happens when you’re just reviewing music that came out fairly recently, as the more under-the-radar artists can tend to slip through the cracks and reveal themselves as the year rolls along. Continue reading

Colin’s Favorite Albums of Winter 2023

I’ve been wanting to get back into reviewing my favorite albums on a (roughly) monthly basis just as I did last year, but it’s been a little hard. The early months of a year in music usually take a little while to take shape, as there’s a decent amount of spill-over from the year before spent listening to albums that made a lot of Best of the Year lists. Also, these past months have been a bit slow in terms of big-deal artists releasing albums, though it seems that things are starting to pick up these last few weeks. However, I’ll probably save reviewing more recent releases for the end of this month, after I have the chance to really spend some decent listening time with them.

But for now, let’s take a look at some albums from January, February, and March of this year, which I’ll just broadly refer to as Winter 2023, a season we can now safely say is in the rearview. Continue reading

Oscars Fortnight Day 10: All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

95th Academy Awards (2023)
Wins: We’ll see…

The most striking differences between the two cinematic adaptations of All Quiet on the Western Front stem from context. The 1930 version came out a long, long time ago. Back when World War I was called The Great War because WWII hadn’t happened yet. The “war epic” genre was not well-worn territory and there weren’t familiar tropes, in fact, All Quiet on the Western Front was the first talkie to win Oscars. On the other hand, the 2022 version is dripping with dramatic irony and historical context. It could crassly be dismissed as the latest attempt to give WWI its Saving Private Ryan, along with films like 1917 and Spielberg’s own War Horse. And it’s tempting to be dismissive of the remake for choosing the very 21st Century choice of playing up gore and omitting characterization. But that’s awfully pretentious and, like I said last time, there’s a war going on in Europe right now. This is important, come and see.

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Oscars Fortnight Day 9: CODA

CODA (2021)

The 94th Academy Awards (2022)
Nominations: 3
Wins: 3

There is something about winning Best Picture that makes a film impossible to watch objectively. I know that literally everything is subjective and everybody loves to have hot or interesting takes on everything, but a Best Picture win is as close a thing as we have to proof that a movie is good or important or contains some artistic merit. This is unfortunate for a movie like CODA, which I’m sure I would have been perfectly charmed by if I’d seen it in the summer of 2021, knowing very little about it. But watching it now, a year after its underdog Best Picture win, I couldn’t help but judge it against the expectations of being a Best Picture winner and feeling a little disappointed because of it. Continue reading

Oscars Fortnight Day 8: The Prince of Tides

The Prince of Tides (1991)

The 64th Academy Awards (1992)
Wins: 0

Out of the movies I reviewed this year for Oscar fortnight, The Prince of Tides is probably the one I knew the least about going into (despite the fact that there have been multiple Simpsons references to it). Really all I had to go off of was its poster, which was apparently good enough to also be used for the film’s Criterion Collection release, even if it’s a little misleading considering how long it takes for Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand to hook up in this movie. Also, the poster doesn’t even really tell you if this is a period piece or not, considering how ornate the movie’s title is. Thankfully, this was a great way to go into The Prince of Tides, since its tonal shifts and disarming darkness make it obvious why this movie hasn’t quite become a feelgood classic, even though it also has a lot of elements that remind you what’s great about big, bold, crowd-pleasing studio filmmaking. Continue reading

Oscars Fortnight Day 7: Dances with Wolves

Dances with Wolves (1990)

The 63rd Academy Awards (1991)
Wins: 7

One of the my favorite aspects of doing these Oscar retrospectives is looking back and trying to see why a particular film resonated with audiences (or at least the Academy) in its time. Why were people so into Dances with Wolves? And why did the Academy give Kevin Costner’s overbearing western epic the top prize when there was another painfully obvious choice. I’m of course referring to Goodfellas, which I would argue is among the most celebrated and quoted crime films of all time. Meanwhile, I’m not sure if Dances with Wolves would even crack a top thirty of the greatest westerns of all time.

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Oscars Fortnight Day 6: Coal Miner’s Daughter

Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

The 53rd Academy Awards (1981)
Nominations: 7
Wins: 1

Another genre that has become quite dominant at the Oscars in recent years is the musical biopic, as evidenced by the fact that even a wildly uneven one like Elvis was nominated for Best Picture this year. It’s a genre that for whatever reason continues to rake in both moviegoers and awards, despite the fact that Walk Hard quite pointedly lampooned all of the musical biopic’s various clichés in a way that probably should have made it obsolete. Obviously, this felt like a good year to finally see Coal Miner’s Daughter, since its subject Loretta Lynn passed away just a few months ago. However, it also feels appropriate to watch this movie in relation to Elvis, just because it takes such a different approach in telling a similar rags-to-riches story of a singer not always in control of their career. Continue reading